The balancing act of mental health

Mental health is no walk in the park and it always seems to pop up at the most inopportune times. I can be working on schoolwork, feeling perfectly normal, and then get hit with all of my anxiety symptoms at once. When invasive thoughts swarm your head, all you can focus on at the moment is trying to keep yourself calm and get rid of them. 

Once I had an official diagnosis of anxiety, my doctor told me I should try to find ways to relieve any stress I had that could be contributing to my anxiety until I went to my therapist for my first appointment (who I couldn’t see for two months). With staying on top of my internship and worrying about starting my job as Editor-in-Chief, keeping my anxiety at bay was difficult. Since a lot of the thoughts are subconscious, trying to focus on tasks can be near impossible.

One thing therapists tell you is “If you hyper-fixate on your anxiety, it won’t go away.” You’re supposed to distract yourself and it will alleviate. However, when you’re nauseous, your mind is mucked with horrendous thoughts and myriad other symptoms, you want to get rid of those feelings as soon as possible. You also think about what caused you to get anxious in the first place. It puts you in a never-ending spiral.

Setting boundaries is one of the most important parts of anxiety recovery. It’s also the one that’s taken me the longest to learn. Multi-tasking can be beneficial but it wears you down quickly as well. I’ve also been the type of person to be on go-mode that when I have time to do absolutely nothing, my mind and body don’t know how to fully relax. 

I’ve now learned to take time out of my day to take quick breaks to reset my mind. When I get to work in the morning, I’ll drink coffee and play the New York Times mini-games before jumping into my emails. If I’ve been working on an assignment for a couple of hours, I’ll go for a brief 15-minute walk around campus or talk with my co-workers for a bit. Taking time to step away from my stressors has helped me manage my day.

Prioritizing what’s important can also help you balance your mental health. I write down all of my assignments and meetings in my planner at the start of each week. Checking things off of my to-do list makes me feel accomplished and having a visual reminder of what I still need to work on lets me keep my priorities straight. I found that having small routines has also helped me out. Every night, I do some sort of skincare and write in a journal to help clear my mind for the day. 

School, jobs, maintaining physical health and life in general can be a lot to handle, especially when you have to focus on your mental health at the same time. However, practice takes time. The more work I’ve put into trying to balance my mental health, the more it’s paid off over time.

Header photo: Taking time to enjoy coffee is hard when you have things to do. (Emma Johnson/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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